Religious and ethnic influences on willingness to donate organs and donor behavior: An Australian perspective

Claire E. Wakefield*, John Reid, Judi Homewood

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Context: Globally, the demand for donated organs outstrips supply, meaning that there are both practical and theoretical reasons for examining factors that are predictive of individuals' willingness to donate their organs upon their death. Objectives: To determine whether individuals of different religious denominations living in Australia have different views on organ donation, whether donation attitudes differ significantly across ethnic groups, and whether factors identified in international research are predictors of willingness to donate and actual donor behavior in this population. Participants: Data for this study were collected from students at an Australian university from a range of religious and ethnic backgrounds, and their friends and relatives (N = 509). Intervention: Participants were administered the Organ Donation Attitude Scale, as well as additional attitudes and knowledge measures. Main Outcome Measures: Self-reported "willingness to donate" and "donor behavior." Results: Our findings complemented those reported in comparable countries, with females, younger Australians, and those with high knowledge levels being more willing to donate than males, older persons, and those with low knowledge. Persons who described themselves as having stronger religious beliefs (particularly Buddhist and Islamic) held less favorable attitudes toward donation, had lower knowledge levels, and were more likely to oppose donation. Conclusions: Although this study established that attitudes toward, knowledge about, and predictors of organ donation in Australia are similar to those reported elsewhere, donation rates remain low. Further in-depth research examining the impact of religion and culture on attitudes, beliefs, and behavior is essential when exploring strategies to improve organ donation rates in highly multicultural societies such as Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161-168
    Number of pages8
    JournalProgress in Transplantation
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


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